from the earth

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let's grow hemp in sa – why it's a really good idea

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2010-07-15 09:43

You can't get high on industrial hemp, but you can create clothing, housing, food, fuel, natural plastics and other locally useful and globally marketable consumer products out of it. And oh yes, did we mention jobs, and lots of them. Hemp is already a multi $ billion a year industry and growing.

The new HEMP NOW website is live, and they're petitioning the government of SA to join those countries already growing hemp. Sign the petition here.

There are many reasons why we should be growing hemp in SA:

  • hemp is grown organically
  • it is naturally resistant to most pests, so doesn't need pesticides or herbicides (cotton does)
  • an acre field of hemp can yield up to 8 dry tons of fibre (3 times more than cotton)
  • the same crop will give 4 times more paper than an acre forest of trees...

slow food mother city

Submitted by Dax on Wed, 2010-03-17 11:44

Slow Food Mother CitySlow Food Mother CityMy experience is that there is a growing disconnect between people and the food they consume (I use the word consume because I think eating has connotations which often don't apply). I have many friends who cannot cook, many more who struggle to determine the difference between healthy and unhealthy options and most people I know don't have a clue where their food comes from, how it got to them or how it was processed (I could use the word made instead of processed, but again it suggests human intervention which is seldom the case).

This trend is concerning to me, and I am not alone. Slow Food is represented in over 130 countries and has more than 100 000 members. The movement started about 20 years ago in Italy.

your free tickets to the natural & organic products expo 2010

Submitted by turbosprout on Wed, 2010-02-17 11:13

If you're in Cape Town and interested in all things green and organic, then I can guess where you'll be heading this weekend. Now, as a reader of urban sprout, you'll get to visit for free - click here for your complementary ticket that allows you access to both the Natural & Organic Products Exhibition and Womens Show.

This year's show at the CTICC (Fri 19 - Sun 21 Feb) promises to be bustling, judging by the turnout at the Joburg show last year and the growth in consumer interest, so get there early!

Cape Town's Natural & Organic usually draws more visitors with 15 000 attending in October 2008, but this was eclipsed in Joburg last June when 26 000 people visited the show. This was a 370% increase over the last Joburg show and at a time of recession!

Clearly the organic & green movement is shifting

farming for the future – revolutionary or smudging the push for organic?

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2009-11-10 20:40

farming for the futureWoolworths has recently made public their pioneering of a new method of farming fresh produce. It's called 'farming for the future', and there's a lot of talk about improving the soil and plant health, preserving water, protecting biodiversity and being kinder to the environment.

The gist of the new farming for the future is that 'conventional farming methods are increasingly not sustainable' and that 'new methods improve soil and water quality and encourage biodiversity'. Woolworths mention that their 'agricultural experts' have spent three years developing the practices of this form of farming with their suppliers.

in support of micro-farmers – how you can help

Submitted by sproutingforth on Tue, 2009-10-13 10:43

I was really interested to read recently that over 15% of the world's food is produced by micro-farmers – organic and biodynamic backyard gardens, community gardens or small farms. That's higher than I thought. It makes me kind of proud to have one of those gardens in our backyard, even if we have to share a large percentage of it with the snails.

Most of us have heard of Abalimi Bezekhaya (Farmers of Home) co-founded by Rob Small, which has started nothing short of a micro-farming revolution in the townships of Cape Town, investing in organic micro-farming in order to end poverty – no fewer than 100 community gardens and 3 000 micro-farmers in Cape Town alone.

These same farmers supply half their produce to the well-known organic box delivery scheme, Harvest of Hope with packing sheds in

‘do nothing farming’ – fukuoka’s wise words

Submitted by Guest on Wed, 2009-08-12 09:22

Blog kindly written by Carey Finn.

These days, organic farming is more popular than ever. With organic box schemes, growing organic sections in supermarkets, and an increasing awareness on the part of consumers, it looks like organic is here to stay, and will only grow further. Certainly, organic farming, especially when it incorporates principles of permaculture and biodynamism, is a massive improvement on modern agriculture with its poisons and exploitations.

But it should not be seen as the plateau – as Masanobu Fukuoka, a wise farmer from Japan said, we have many more steps to take to return to the source; in other words, we have a way to go before we are truly growing our food in harmony with nature...

winter CSA - changing your approach to food

Submitted by Ahmed on Tue, 2009-06-30 12:11

We live in a world of pre-packaged, microwave heat-able, tasteless, soulless, pretty much inedible food.

And we like it like that because it is easy, it requires no effort on our part, and pretty much allows us to fit into a certain category, market, or demographic – and we don't have to think for ourselves. Since the flaws, in this current economic system have become apparent– with the crises and all, the question now is, are there any means by which the static manufacturer/retailer/consumer model can be broken?

And there is.

In Cape Town we've already supported the first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) project, and this winter, Slow Food Cape Town, in conjunction with the Sustainability Institute, and farmers Eric Swarts and Erick Zenzele, will run the winter CSA bag project from 30th June through 18th August.

the world according to monsanto documentary review

Submitted by Dax on Mon, 2008-11-24 11:28

World according to MonsantoWorld according to MonsantoI have watched a lot of documentaries on GM foods and Monsanto and although they each have their own style and there is always some new information, they generally cover a lot of the same material. This recently released documentary is not like that. It takes a very different angle, looking at the history of Monsanto and the way it operates, rather than focusing specifically on GM foods.

Proponents of GM foods are always suggesting that GM foods are rigorously tested. In fact, an article in the September 2008 issue of Shape magazine said exactly that (read my thoughts here). The testing that they are referring to is done by the Biotech companies themselves. This documentary tries to establish whether we can trust the Biotech companies or not. It looks mainly at Monsanto, which is the biggest Biotech company of them all...

seven deadly myths of industrial agriculture

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-09-15 11:01

We regularly trawl second-hand bookshops for bargains and recently we picked up this gem of a book: Fatal Harvest - The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture. It is quite a tome, but a very interesting and alarming read. I'm slowly making my way through it, dipping in to it now and then, but it will probably take a few months to complete. The book details the destruction of eco-systems and biodiversity by the global industrial farming complex and also presents a new vision for 21st century food systems. The contributing authors include a healthy dose of journalists, professors, legal experts, directors of NGO's and food activists, Vandana Shiva amongst them. Here are some pearls of wisdom from a section called Corporate Lies: Busting the Myths of Industrial Agriculture.

Myth One: Industrial Agriculture Will Feed the World
World hunger is not created by a lack of food but by poverty and landlessness, which deny people access to food. Industrial agriculture actually increases hunger by raising the cost of farming, by forcing tens of millions of farmers off the land, and by growing primarily high-profit export and luxury crops.

slow food seed exchange

Submitted by turbosprout on Fri, 2008-08-01 11:32

pic: Kitchen Gardeners Internationalpic: Kitchen Gardeners InternationalIf you've tried to track down organic seed in this country you'll know that it's quite a challenge. Most organic home gardeners have to make do with conventional garden centre seed, some of which is treated with fungicide to extend the seed's viability. There are also more and more hybridised (F1) seed varieties available which means that when these plants reproduce the seed that is produced does not have the same traits as its parents. It is not true to type. So if you save the seed from your prize-winning pumpkin expecting to repeat the feat the following year, you may be in for a surprise and find frankenfruit instead!

Also some of the varieties available are simply those kinds that are farmed commercially, so they are bred for uniformity, appearance, longer storage life or to mature at the same time to facilitate harvesting at once, whilst a home grower prefers an extended cropping season and absolutely delicious bounty. Breeding commercial vegetables or crops to be exceptionally tasty seems less of a priority.

Fortunately organic seed is appearing locally on a small scale - take a look here - and we've just heard of an exciting project that will deliver more seed power to the people.

Slow Food Cape Town, a local convivium (chapter) of the international Slow Food movement, is about "promoting food which is good, clean and fair (i.e. culturally important and qualitatively delicious, produced sustainably and promotes social justice in agricultural communities)".

Kate Shrier, whilst in pursuit of a local asparagus farm for a Slow Food outing, contacted us and let us know about the project:

"Slow Food Cape Town is currently working on a new, very

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